“The greatest day of my life was the day I really understood that I am the maker of my own misery and therefore also the maker of my success,’ she says. “If I can change my mind, I can change my outcome.” Christina Coates, Oxygen Magazine, September 2015

Representing…..

il_340x270.747131250_sn2iGulf World is one of Liberty’s favorite places to go in Panama City Beach. And, it’s also my 89 year old mother-in-law’s favorite place. Due to the extreme Florida heat and humidity, we don’t want to spend the entire day there so we bought annual passes so that we can stop by and see one of the show’s whenever we want. (That’s where Hank and his mom are right now….)

When we were there the other day I noticed that a lot of people were wearing t-shirts representing their faith. One of the t-shirts I saw had Isaiah 43:1 on it.

And I had a problem with this and it’s not because I disagree with Isaiah 43:1. I truly believe that I have been redeemed by God through my faith in Jesus Christ and that He knows me by my full name.  My problem is this: the man who was wearing this t-shirt was gi-normous and the shirt had holes in it! Don’t be offended yet! I know that God loves ginormous people and that he’s more interested in our heart than our outward appearance.* My problem is this…..

According to the urban dictionary, Representing means showing off your colors, letting the world know who’s your crew and hood; Getting up in someone’s face to let them know who you are, who you run with, and where you hang.

The man who was wearing this t-shirt was representing Jesus. And, maybe without realizing it, he was representing the church along with those of us who believe that we are redeemed.

I can’t help but  wondering if anyone looked at him and then thought to themselves, “I want what he has……” Did anyone take the time to look past his appearance to discover that he’s a great guy with a kind and loving heart and that Jesus has made his life better than we would ever imagine?

Forgive me before you read on…… But I think most people are not like God. They are not willing to get to know who we really are. I think that most people look at our outward appearance and, based on first impressions,  judge whether or not they are interested getting to know us. And it’s by getting to know us that they get to know who and what we believe in.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again and again…. who would be drawn to us if the first impression we made was one  of strength, confidence, health, and vitality?  And by getting to know us, who would eventually  meet the Jesus that we love so much?

Scriptures to ponder:

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  Matthew 22:36-39

We use the word as so often that we forget what it actually means. Used in this context, let’s take a look at Webster’s definition of asto the same degree or amount

The truth in this passage is so simple that it is easy to overlook.  We must love ourself before we can truly love anyone else.  We can only give away something that we already possess.

It’s time for you and I to stop thinking that loving ourselves is wrong or selfish when it is actually biblical.  So here are a few ways that we can begin to love ourselves:

  • Stop talking about yourself in ways that you would never allow someone to talk about your children…. We are the children of God and he doesn’t like hearing it no more than you would like hearing someone call your child names.
  • Make taking care of yourself a priority. If you’re like me and have empty-nested, you know that you’ve always made sure that your children were well cared for. And if you are in the middle of raising your family then you know just how much effort you put into making sure that the needs of your children are met. It’s time to do that for you! You are a child of God and he wants the best for you.
  • Take time to enjoy the day. Find something that you enjoy doing and do it! Now I know that you probably don’t have hours to commit to a project but you can schedule a little bit of time to work on that craft you started, read a few pages in the book that you have laying on your nightstand, or take a walk and breath in some fresh air.

Learn to love yourself without guilt and you’ll be able to love others with joy.

barely a babyboomer

Baby Boomers are generally defined as those who were born between 1945 and 1964. Being born 1963 means that I barely made it into this demographic. Since I rarely identify myself as a boomer I tend to ignore any news or studies that relate to this age group. That is until today…..

As I was driving to the gym, I heard an interesting statement on public radio.  Apparently, those in the know are projecting that those of us who were born between 1958 and 1964 will pay 25% of our medical costs out of pocket after retirement. Take a moment and let that sink in. TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT!

After hearing this, I began to think about what many of us who were born during that six year time period will end up paying. So I googled baby boomers and healthcare and came across this report from the American Hospital Association and the FCG.

Here’s a few highlights of what you may have to spend your hard earned retirement savings on:

By 2030:

  • More than six of every 10 Boomers will be managing more than one or more chronic condition such as hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.
  • More than one out of every three Boomers – over 21 million – will be considered obese.
  • One of every four Boomers – 14 million – will be living with diabetes.
  • Nearly one out of every two Boomers – more than 26 million – will be living with arthritis.
  • Eight times more knee replacements will be performed than today.

I’ve often said that you will have to pay to take care of yourself one way or another. You either pay now by choosing a healthy lifestyle or you’ll pay for medical care later. And, according to the report I heard today you may end up paying 25% of your health care costs after retirement.

So let’s do a little bit of math…….

According to Google, we are paying the following costs today:

  • The average cost to traditional health insurers for the first 90 days following a heart attack is $38,501. If you have to pay 25% of that out of pocket your cost will be $9625.25.
  • People with diagnosed diabetes incur average medical expenditures of about $13,700 per year. If you have to pay 25% of that out of pocket your cost will be $3,425.00.
  • Obese people spend 42% more on healthcare costs than healthyweight people.

And, you know what? These costs will only continue to skyrocket as we age.

Now me, I’m almost 52 and rather than figuring out what I’ll have to give up to pay my medical bills when the time comes, I’d rather be thinking about what I can do today to prevent these diseases in my life. I’d rather spend my money now on good food, gym memberships, along with toys like paddle boards and bicycles than pay doctor’s bills later.

And, let’s not forget about time. I’d rather be having fun today enjoying a good meal or kayaking across the waves than spend hours waiting to see my doctor or hear about my lab reports.

What about you?

Comparisons…..

I think the one of the curses of the fatherless child is to always compare oneself against someone else. For me, I was always searching for a reason why I wasn’t wanted and I was convinced that it had to be all about me —- it couldn’t have been about my mom or my biological father’s own shortcomings, selfishness, or lack of responsibility.

So I began comparing myself with girls who had their very own fathers. They were smarter, sillier, and sweeter than I must of been because their daddies didn’t abandon them. So I’d try to act like them so that I could have my very own daddy one day. And when that didn’t work, I became more and more introverted so that I didn’t have to see what they had that I so desperately needed.

https://i1.wp.com/positivelylace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/bikinihalterself-1024x1024.jpgBut it wasn’t until I was about 13 years old that I began to compare my body to others.  I can remember it clearly. My mom was managing some apartments in Stone Mountain and, after chores, we were allowed to hang out at the pool until she got off of work. There was a girl my age  who wore one of those crocheted bikinis and she overflowed out of the top. (If I would have worn one of those tops at the time it would have looked just like it does in the picture – flat!) Not only did she fill out the bikini she was the first girl my age who seemed to flaunt her sexuality.

And I knew then that I didn’t and wouldn’t ever measure up.

I wish I could say that I outgrew that feeling or that I stopped comparing myself to others only to come up lacking almost every time. Truth be told, it became a habit that usually left me feeling quite horrible about myself. A habit that caused me to withdraw from others because I knew that I didn’t measure up to them.

I became so petty in my comparisons that I’d notice much more than their figures – I’d see their matching finger and toe nails and decide that they wouldn’t like me because I was more of an all natural girl. Or, I’d look at their clothes only to decide that we had nothing in common so they wouldn’t like me.

Those surface judgments stole possible friendships.

I’m telling you this because God brought it to my memory during my prayer time the other day. He asked me to look back at that moment in time and see things as they really were. She was simply a little older than me and way ahead of me in her development. I eventually caught up and  could fill out that bikini top. But it took years for me to catch up to feeling as comfortable in my own skin as she did prancing around the pool that summer.

God then lead me through praying for forgiveness….. Forgiving myself for those horrible comparisons that I made and forgiving him for always being so critical of his creation.  He reminded me that the Word tells me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made  and that I am created in his image, according to his likeness.

If, like me, you often compare yourself to others then maybe it’s time for you to ask God to show you the root of where those comparisons began so that you can dig up that nasty vine and plant seeds of forgiveness and acceptance.  And, together,  we will break this horrible habit that leaves us feeling so insecure that we allow surface judgments to steal possible friendships.

As usual Paul hits us hard in this area when he writes,  “In https://i1.wp.com/slvlogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/ouch.gifmeasuring themselves against each other and comparing themselves with each other, they are simply stupid.” 2 Corinthians 10:12b

Scripture References: Psalm 139:14, Genesis 1:26

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